Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact Michael A. Schafer, Attorney at Law. The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have about your accident. If you don't find the answers here, you should contact us for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free.
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How Does Bankruptcy Affect My Case?
Filing for bankruptcy during your personal injury claim could put the money from your personal injury case in the hands of the bankruptcy trustee. That is why it’s important to consult with your personal injury attorney before you file for bankruptcy. That way, your personal injury attorney can advise you of your options and work with your bankruptcy attorney to ensure that your rights are fully protected.
Related Video: Should Kentucky Accident Victims Settle Their Cases Out Of Court?
When you file for bankruptcy, your personal injury claim becomes part of your bankruptcy estate. A bankruptcy estate consists of all of your property and property rights that the bankruptcy court has control over. Your personal injury claim becomes part of the bankruptcy estate. The bankruptcy trustee has the power to decide when and how your claim is resolved. This means, the proceeds from your settled case will likely be used to make payments to your creditors.
There are bankruptcy exemptions that affect your personal injury case found in 11 USC 522 (d). 11 USC 522 (d)(11) exempts crime victim reparations, wrongful death and life insurance in an amount reasonably necessary to support the debtor. That same section (11 USC 522 (d)(11)) gives a personal injury exemption of $21,625. There is also an exemption for loss of future earnings reasonably necessary to support the debtor. There is also a wild card exemption in 11 USC 522 (d)(5) for $1,225 and up to $10,825 of the unused homestead exemption.
As you can tell, the bankruptcy statute is complicated. It is best to contact your personal injury attorney prior to filing for bankruptcy to determine the best strategy for your situation.
What happens if the at-fault party files for bankruptcy?
If the at-fault party files for bankruptcy during your personal injury claim against them, this will cause the litigation processes to be stayed. This is called the automatic bankruptcy stay. The automatic bankruptcy stay prohibits most creditors from continuing with collection activities, but there are exceptions. It’s important to know what these exceptions are so that you can be ready for them. In most situations, you may still proceed with the claim if the at-fault party is insured. This is because you are actually collecting from the insurance company not the person who is filing for bankruptcy.
How Do I Pay For Court Fees?
Most accident attorneys handle cases on what is called a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not pay a legal fee unless money is recovered for you. There is nothing to pay up front. A fee is paid from the recovery that is made.
Will I Have To Pay Anything Before My Case Goes To Court?
Litigation costs are advanced in most cases. These costs can include: filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees and many other expenses for depositions or evidence to be presented in court. It can cost thousands of dollars. If you are responsible for this money, it is advanced by most attorneys and paid from the proceeds of your case.
What Are The Fees If My Case Goes To Court?
Litigation costs are advanced in most auto, truck, motorcycle, bicycle and fatal accident cases. These costs may include: filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees and many other expenses for depositions or evidence to be presented in court. It can cost thousands of dollars. If you are responsible for this money, it is advanced by most attorneys and paid from the proceeds of your case.
What Are Added Reparation Benefits?
Added Reparation Benefits may be purchased from your insurance company. This raises the limit of your PIP Benefits above the $10,000 limit.
Are All Attorneys The Same?
No, not all attorneys are the same. Many attorneys have practices that concentrate in different areas of law. For example, it is important that you find one that concentrates in car accident cases if you are in an automobile accident. Should you need a criminal, bankruptcy or divorce attorney, you would want an attorney who concentrates in those areas.
Should I Talk To The Insurance Company?
I urge people not to speak with any insurance adjuster until they have consulted with an attorney. However, it is important to cooperate with the insurance company. It is equally as important to have all the information at your disposal that the insurance adjuster has. Remember the insurance adjuster does this every day. They speak with people that have been in accidents as part of their job.
Who Will Pay For My Medication?
Your insurance company will pay for your medication through your PIP coverage. You initially pay for any medication that you have and then we send the receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement.
How Much Do You Charge And Do I Have To Pay Upfront?
I work on a contingency fee basis. This means that I receive a percentage of what I collect at the end of the case. The contingency fee is 1/3 (33 1/3%). Additionally, you are charged expenses and unpaid medical bills. This is a sample of the contract you may sign with my office.
Should I Accept A Check From The Insurance Company?
It is always dangerous to accept a settlement without knowing all of your rights. In a car accident, once the case is settled, you can never re-open it, even if you find additional injuries at a later date. It's my suggestion that you consult with an attorney before accepting any checks or settlement money.